03 May 2011
Yesterday, I had the pleasure to be in Alicante to sign a Memorandum of Understanding on co-operation with the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM). Some may question whether such an agreement between the EPO and OHIM is really needed; they may feel that the principles and procedures governing patents are too different from those applicable to trademarks and designs.
In fact, a new and innovative product will typically not only involve novel technology which can be protected by a patent, but will often also stand out from other competing products by its “look and feel” and a catchy brand name. Moreover, nearly all national IP offices in Europe, which are the natural partners of the OHIM and the EPO, are competent for trademarks and designs as well as patents.
In the past, co-operation between OHIM and the EPO has tended to involve one-off projects, mainly outside Europe (in China and South-East Asia for example). Our new agreement now paves the way for a reinforced relationship. The main areas of co-operation will be IP training and awareness, and IT systems. I see this agreement as further evidence of Europe moving forward and building an improved IP environment which will promote innovation and economic growth.
Fundamental to the success of our future co-operation will be to take full account of European diversity. Our member states face very different challenges, so a “one fits all” approach would not be suitable. This is also why I proposed to the EPO’s Administrative Council at its last meeting in March that it should reconvene in June to assess the state of play of our co-operation activities and suggest ways of making further progress.
Only with the involvement of all European stakeholders can Europe remain a key global player!
Categories: International co-operation, Patents
Tags: Alicante, brand name, co-operation, design, EPO, Euroapean, Europe, European Patent Office, global, IT systems, memorandum of understanding, OHIM, patent, trademark